Authors: Paula Wiseman
Tags: #Christian Life, #Family, #Religious, #Married People, #Fiction, #Christian Fiction, #Religion, #Trust, #Forgiveness
Book Two: Covenant of Trust Series
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Indemnity: Book Two: Covenant of Trust Series
Copyright © 2011 by Paula Wiseman. All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and should not be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For more information, e-mail all inquiries to: [email protected]
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Ongoing thank yous. . .
To Jon for your unwavering confidence in me and in the story. I would have quit long ago without you.
To Amanda for the endless hours of plotting, and revising. The book is better, deeper and stronger because of your help. And so am I.
To Kristi for your emotional investment from the beginning.
To Mary for your photos, your comments and your awesome proofreading. To countless others who read and gave feedback.
To J.J. for his enthusiasm for the book and his help and encouragement.
All glory to God, who gives the story, who opens doors, who accomplishes His purposes in all things.
Monday, July 25, St. Louis
Two minutes. Wait two minutes before reading the results. She set the alarm on her wristwatch for five minutes, just to be sure, and left the bathroom.
In the kitchen, she paced between the refrigerator and the doorway, a dozen, then two dozen times. She was never late. She had to be pregnant this time. At thirty-two, her ever-ticking biological clock grew louder and more urgent with each passing month.
For months, she researched, planned, and when the time came, she executed it flawlessly. As soon as he introduced himself to her, she knew he was the one. Just like Mr. Dailey, he was intelligent, successful, driven, but he was also a man of character and integrity. Granted, she wore him down, and led him to compromise some of that integrity, but he would recover. Most importantly, he would never leave his wife for her.
Once or twice, she allowed herself to wonder what might have happened if she’d met him ten or fifteen years ago. Maybe things would have been different. Maybe she would be different.
The alarm on her watch beeped. She rushed to the bathroom, and snatched up the plastic stick. Positive! She was pregnant. She fumbled to find the package instructions and reread them slowly and carefully. Two lines just like in the picture. She
Lightheaded and unsteady, she sat down on the edge of the tub, and focused on her breathing. “Be calm,” she coached, but then she indulged in a moment of pure satisfaction. She did it. She was going to be a mother. This was her one chance to redeem herself, to prove that she wasn’t completely messed up.
After one more deep breath, she stood and checked the calendar. It was July now, that meant ... April, or maybe early May. A spring baby. A boy. A boy with his father’s square jaw and broad shoulders. She smiled, and gently lay a hand low on her belly.
First things first, however. She had to get rid of Chuck. He could never know about the baby. That would protect him, and prevent anyone from getting to her through him. He was leaving town this morning for Kansas City, giving her a day or two to set things in motion. She would tip off Chuck’s wife that he strayed, and then play the part of the scorned lover. Chuck would have to marshal all his energy and attention to appease his wife. He would be more than glad to let her fade out of his life.
Just for safety’s sake, she would file a lawsuit accusing Chuck of harassing her. It was utterly groundless, but it would keep him from contacting her. He wouldn’t want anything to do with her ever again. By the time she began to show, she would drop the suit, and simply disappear.
SEVEN YEARS LATER
Thursday, August 2
This is going to be a miserable day,” Bobbi Molinsky muttered to herself as she got out of her air conditioned car. Thick, heavy air blanketed her, and shimmering waves of heat rose from the asphalt parking lot. She headed up the sidewalk along the short side of the playground, thankful the teachers’ lot was close to the building.
Hearing giggling over the rhythmic squeaking of the swings, Bobbi glanced back at the playground. A small boy swung in a wide arc. “Emma! I’m gonna jump!” he teased in a singsong voice. “One! Two! Three!” The woman gasped in mock horror, satisfying the boy, who never left the swing. “Fooled ya!”
Bobbi shook her head and smiled as she passed. He sounded like Joel. In fact, except for his dark, reddish hair, he could have passed for Joel’s little brother.
Bobbi, your baby boy is a college freshman now. Let him go.
Besides, her nest was hardly empty. With Shannon entering kindergarten, she and Chuck were starting over.
Inside the school building, mothers and grandmothers with children in tow clutched papers, filled out forms and hustled in and out of the office. Of course. Open registration for transfer students. That explained the boy on the swings. Maybe he would end up in Shannon’s class. Or hers.
Bobbi slipped into the school office, picked up her mail and headed down to her classroom. A wall of cardboard boxes surrounded the desk, giving the room the look of a warehouse. After spending the morning unpacking boxes and arranging the room, she dropped into her desk chair, and began reviewing her class roll while her computer booted.
Wade … Carmella … Kaylee … Brayton … Brodie …
I think I had Brodie’s brother. Ashton is a boy, not a girl …
The last name on the list, a handwritten addition, was Jackson Charles Ravenna.
Seven years ago, Chuck had an affair with Tracy Ravenna. Surely, this couldn’t be ...
Dear God, please,” Bobbi murmured. “Not again.” She quickly flipped through her students’ information sheets until she found Jackson’s. Round, loopy letters confirmed her fears.
Jackson was Tracy’s son.
Emotions Bobbi locked away for the last seven years churned to the surface. In spite of the counseling, the changes Chuck made, and the reconciliation, searing pain surged through her, almost as fresh and real as the day she looked in Chuck’s eyes and knew he’d been unfaithful.
Would Tracy try to reestablish contact with Chuck? Is that what she was after? Had he done enough to protect his heart and mind from her in these intervening seven years? Seven years. Jackson was six years old. She ran her finger down the sheet looking for a date of birth. April eighteenth. She counted backward on her fingers.
April meant July.
He was conceived in July. Chuck was with Tracy on the eleventh, the fourteenth and the twenty-first. Pain gave way to bitter shame. Jackson Charles Ravenna wasn’t just Tracy’s son.
He was Chuck’s son.
She wiped the sweat beading across her forehead. The air conditioner was on, wasn’t it? Lightheaded and nauseous, Bobbi leaned over, and breathed deeply, dragging the wastebasket closer as a precaution.
They quit counseling altogether because everything was good. They were solid. She loved him, and she trusted him. She asked Chuck point blank if Tracy was pregnant, and he said no. If he lied ... If he knew about this boy all these years ... If he kept this a secret ...
Clutching the class list, she bolted back outside to her car. She couldn’t wait for Chuck to come home to discuss this. She had to know now. She jerked her car out of the parking space, her tires squealing as she sped out of the parking lot.
Chuck sighed and gave up squinting through the Thursday updates. He reluctantly pulled his glasses from his shirt pocket and slid them on. Bobbi didn’t need glasses yet, much less bifocals, but then Bobbi wouldn’t be fifty this fall either.
He reached across his desk and picked up the photo of his wife. He took the picture on their second honeymoon on Maui, moments after he stopped a complete stranger to ask him if he’d ever seen a more beautiful woman. He captured her shy smile, with the self-conscious tilt of her head.
A few weeks later, with that same expression, she whispered, “Chuck, I’m pregnant.”
Well, sweetheart, when a husband and wife love each other, there are many special ways to show that—”